Fermenting Success


FSHN student among 12 scholars to receive Brown Graduate Fellowship Award

By Ethan Stoetzer

The Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition’s (FSHN) Bibek Byanju, Ph.D. in Food Science and Technology, was recently named a 2022-2023 Brown Graduate Fellow by the Iowa State University Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR).

Since 2011, the OVPR has administered the annual Brown Graduate Fellowship Program to advance research at Iowa State in the areas of science, agriculture and space science. An internal review committee selects several Ph.D. or master’s degree students from across the university to receive $10,000 each in institutional funding. This funding can be used to enhance existing fellowships, partially fund a fellowship, or assist with recruitment of new graduate students.

Byanju is currently completing his Ph.D. in Food Science and Technology, focusing on the usage of co-products of corn wet milling. Corn wet milling is a water-based process that breaks down corn kernels into their component parts, such as: corn oil, protein, corn starch and fiber. These components can then be used in products such as corn bran, corn steep liquor and thin stillage, as well as used for higher value biochemical, food and feed ingredients.

Buddhi Lamsal, professor of Food Engineering and Bioprocessing at Iowa State, nominated Byanju for this year’s fellowship award, citing that his research and findings have the potential to limit agro-industrial waste through finding alternative uses for by-products that often get thrown away.

A particular focus for Byanju is on using these components in various fermentation processes.

“I’m very much interested in fermented products such as wines, whisky and pickles,” Byanju said. “Since my childhood I’ve seen my parents making these fermented products and wanted to explore how the process works.”

Byanju’s undergraduate education was completed at Kathmandu University, Nepal, where he earned a B. Tech in Biotechnology. From there, he came to Iowa State University to complete his master’s in Food Science and Technology. Byanju’s program is focused on sonication-assisted protein extraction from some legumes, and the improvement of the nutritional profile of various ingredients through fermentation.

“The Iowa State food science program offers a plethora of courses like advanced food processing, food chemistry, food microbiology, and several interdisciplinary fields along with the world-class research faculty,” Byanju said of his decision to continue his academic career at Iowa Sate. “This program offers everything to become an expert in food science and human nutrition, which made me choose my academic journey at Iowa State.”

Byanju intends to use the fellowship award to pay for tuition and fees, which will allow him to put more time and focus, as well as resources, into accomplishing his research and continuing towards his aspirations. But when not studying, in the classroom or conducting research, Byanju likes to step away into the outdoors for camping, hiking and playing soccer; he can also be found catching up on cinema or enjoying a classic film.